Ocean Springs family mourns death of daughter; thanks friends for support

Sophia smiles after receiving a wig from the Pink Hearts Fund in November 2009.
Sophia smiles after receiving a wig from the Pink Hearts Fund in November 2009.

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - An Ocean Springs family mourning the loss of a child is taking the time to thank those who offered prayers, donations or a word of encouragement. The Mohler family says Sophia, 8, lost her battle with cancer. She passed away Tuesday night at home with her family by her side.

Sophia's grandmother says when the third grader developed an infection a week ago, her body was too weak from the chemotherapy to fight. The family says the outpouring of love and support from friends and neighbors gives them comfort and strength.

The flowers and notes of condolences left in front Tato Nut Bakery let the Mohler family know they were not alone in their grief. A whole community is feeling the loss of Sophia Mohler who died just a little over a year after doctors found a tumor at the base of her brain.

"We were just all saying goodbye to her," said Verona Mohler, grandmother. "We knew she wasn't going to be with us much longer, so all went over and said goodbye. She peacefully went to sleep. She's been sick for a week with infection, and they didn't have any antibiotics that would cure it."

Even after 50 years of doing business in Ocean Springs, the Mohlers say they are still amazed at how the community has rallied behind them. The help has ranged from prayers to raising tens of thousands of dollars for Sophia medical expenses.

Sophia's uncle Brick Mohler wore a t-shirt sold in a fundraiser that read "Community By Chance. Friends By Choice."

"I guess just being in business for ourselves, for our family all these years; you get to know a lot of people." said Brick Mohler. "They've been behind us. Standing behind us the whole time. The community, how they come together and support something and people in need. They do that down here more than anywhere, it seems like to me."

Verona Mohler said, "Words can't tell you how wonderful this community is, has been to use in helping us through the bad times along with the good ones. It's been a lot of years. I always say if you're going to have tragedy, Ocean Springs is the place to have it because they're so supportive, so full of love. Without them, I don't know what we would do."

Sophia's grandmother and uncle say they know she is a happier place and her suffering is over, but they're going to miss that smile.

"She just always liked to play, [with] her dolls or on the sidewalk riding her bicycle,"said Verona Mohler. "So we're going to miss seeing her happy little self running around. "

Brick Mohler said, "She was a very, very strong girl. Made a lot of people better people. Made a lot of people better in her short time. Really changed a lot of lives for the better."

Sophia was a third grader at St. Alfonsos Catholic School in Ocean Springs. She leaves behind her parents and a sister. Her grandmother says the family plans to make funeral arrangements on Thursday.

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